Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour: when will the government put people before money?
Your article, “Hong Kong harbours ambitions for Central waterfront” (May 14), draws timely public attention to the importance of our 73km of harbourfront and the threat of its being ruined by indiscriminate and insensitive development, both by the government and private interests.
In Kowloon, the new extension of the Hong Kong Museum of Art now being constructed right on the Tsim Sha Tsui harbourfront has degraded the beautiful view of the harbour, which is Hong Kong’s greatest tourist attraction.
On Hong Kong Island, the most sensitive part of the Central harbourfront has been changed from a public promenade to a PLA military site as a naval base. On the most visible and valuable site outside the Four Seasons Hotel now stands an ugly government ventilation building which could have been located elsewhere.
These are the heights of folly. The government promises to give Hong Kong a “world-class harbourfront” and yet does the exact opposite.
For 15 years, our society has been advocating a “Harbour Authority” to look after the harbour and the harbourfront. The government had responded five years ago with a public consultation, which was undertaken by the previous administration and which showed overwhelming support from the Hong Kong people for such a proposal.
Yet, the establishment of the “Harbourfront Authority” was suddenly scrapped by the present administration without any explanation or justification.
Meanwhile, the harbourfront is being ruined by callous planning by the government and unsightly developments by selfish commercial interests.
While the harbour is now reasonably safe from further extensive and excessive reclamation, it can only be properly enjoyed if the harbourfront is sensibly planned and sensitively utilised. The harbour should be made accessible to the public and planned for the enjoyment by the community and not for land sales to raise more money for the government’s already swollen coffers.
Our society demands that the government keep its promise to give Hong Kong a “world-class harbourfront” and to proceed with the “Harbourfront Authority” without further delay.
When will government officials learn that proper town planning is about people and put people before money? They should change their mindset before our harbour and harbourfront are ruined forever.
Winston Ka-Sun Chu, honorary adviser, Society for Protection of the Harbour